Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 208

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s envoy for special assignments, Gennady Ilichev, conferred in Sukhumi with Abkhaz leaders on the future course of Georgian-Abkhaz negotiations. Ilichev claimed that Tbilisi had declined to join in "tripartite" consultations over the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia. The Russian envoy failed to mention publicly, let alone disavow, parliamentary elections planned by Abkhazia on November 23 despite the absence of the expelled Georgian population. Ilichev also stated that he had ascertained the Abkhaz leaders’ position in rejecting the inclusion of Western countries — members of the "Club of Georgia’s Friends" — in the negotiations devoted to settling the Abkhazia conflict. (Interfax, November 4 and 5) Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze for his part told the country on radio that Moscow ought to disapprove of the planned Abkhaz elections as a matter of Russian policy, not merely in the form of personal opinions of some officials as has been the case. This "would help dispel the well-grounded doubts concerning the Russian government’s stand," Shevardnadze said. (Radio Tbilisi, November 4)

The issue of including "Georgia’s Friends" in the negotiations adds to the known differences between Moscow and Tbilisi. That group of countries consists of the four Western permanent member countries of the UN Security Council plus Germany, which is perhaps the most active Western country in promoting a settlement consistent with Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity. Moscow is hiding behind the Abkhaz refusal to keep "Georgia’s Friends" out of the negotiations. UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s special envoy for Abkhazia, Edouard Brunner, on a recent visit to Abkhazia similarly contented himself with recording the Abkhaz leaders’ refusal to include those countries.

Kazakhstan’s Economic Prospects.